ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs the cabinet meeting on Monday.—APP
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs the cabinet meeting on Monday.—APP

• Cabinet told 2,000MW to be injected into national grid by week end owing to better inflow in rivers
• Only plants running on local fuel to be used for power generation
• Minister says nation can expect relief on Eid

ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Monday made another commitment to the nation of overcoming the unbridled electricity loadshedding by the end of the week.

The announcement was made in a federal cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. The cabinet met on Monday instead of the usual Tuesday as an important meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security is scheduled for Tuesday (today) that will be attended by the top political and military leadership of the country.

The meeting was apprised that 2,000 megawatts of electricity will be injected into the national grid soon due to a better inflow of water in rivers.

“The country’s loadshedding woes will soon end, as an additional 2,000MW are expected to enter the supply grid by the end of the week, which will improve the situation,” said the PM’s Adviser on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira on Monday in a post-cabinet meeting press conference.

Flanked by federal ministers Marriyum Aurangzeb, Khurram Dastgir and Chaudhry Salik Hussain, Mr Kaira said: “The inflow in rivers has improved and Tarbela [dam] is filling up better, so it is expected that around 2,000MW of additional cheap electricity from hydel sources will enter the system by the week’s end and eventually reduce loadshedding.”

Interestingly, Prime Minister Sharif had earlier on April 26 announced an end to power outages across the country from May 1. He had claimed that the government had operationalised 20 out of 27 major power producers, which were shut for a year.

Mr Kaira said the PM had strictly instructed to restrict loadshedding to up to three hours. He also said the cabinet decided not to install any more power plants that depended on imported fuel, adding that only those that were operated on local fuel would be used for power generation in the future.

He also blamed the previous PTI government for the country’s present power woes. He said the Imran Khan-led government had failed to take “timely decisions” and set up production plants, terming it “criminal negligence”.

“Power plants can’t be installed immediately and it’s not possible to immediately increase electricity.”

The adviser said the situation was such that the government was forced to resort to reviving defunct and inefficient power plants that had higher costs.

“We have around 24,000MW available today with the demand at 30,000MW, because of which there has been acute loadshedding,” Kaira explained, adding the existing demand could not be met even if the country utilised all its power plants -- nuclear, thermal, hydel, wind and solar.

“The current government is not responsible for this. This [gap] did not appear in two months. This is the negligence that Imran Khan’s government [committed] by not setting up power plants in his four years and not planning to cater to the future demand.”

The PPP leader also took on the PTI for “failing to complete existing projects” on time, adding that had they been completed the power outages would not have been as dire as they were today.

Speaking at the press conference, Power Minister Khurram Dastgir said “in the next four to five days before Eidul Azha”, Tarbela dam would start its full production at 3,500MW and “considerably reduce” loadshedding.

“We are also expecting that our K2 nuclear plant, which is being refuelled, [will be operational] so its 1,100MW will enter the system and the whole nation can expect relief on Eid,” he added.

He further claimed the country’s power situation would improve next year with the operationalisation of power projects of 4,623MW initiated by the last PML-N government.

The minister said 7,000MW would enter the system from these projects, as well as others such as solar power and private net metering. He also said the government was considering a comprehensive policy on solar energy, adding the focus would be on large-scale plants, as well as supporting small consumers to install smaller plants.

The cabinet meeting also made some other important decisions and approved the decisions of the cabinet committee on legislative cases that included some amendments to the NAB law. The cabinet also removed 13 names from the Exit Control List and added four new ones to it.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2022

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